The UNP is investigating irregularities at the JVP-run Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ministry, particularly the use of ministry funds to equip a party office at Mahamodara in the South.
This comes hot on the heels of the recent dismissal of Fisheries Secretary N. Bambarawanage, by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, on a request of Fisheries Minister Chandrasena Wijesinghe, a member of the nine-man JVP politburo.
The UNP believes that the veteran SLAF officer had been unceremoniously transferred to the Home Ministry `pool` as he objected to the Marxist party`s handling of ministry work.
A UNP heavyweight is believed to have recently inquired about Bambarawanage`s transfer. The UNP was planning to attack the Sandhanaya government on this issue, the sources said. The previous UNP government had been also accused of unprecedented irregularities at the Fisheries Ministry, particularly financial misdeeds.
Political sources said that Wijesinghe had requested the appointment of Ediriachchaiyalage Jinadasa (now 7 months short of reaching the retirement age) as the Ministry Secretary. `He hadn`t directly asked for Bambarawanage`s removal but requested the President to name Jinadasa as the new Secretary,` the sources said.
Bambarawanage is about 22 months short of reaching his retirement age. The sources pointed out that the veteran SLAF official was among the four secretaries hand picked by the JVP. President Kumaratunga had appointed them on the JVP`s request, the sources said, adding that she wouldn`t have dismissed one of the secretaries without being asked. Unilateral action on her part would have been resisted by the JVP, the sources said.
`We expect the Sri Lanka Administrative Service Association to take up this issue,` the sources said. The association had attacked the former Fisheries Minister Mahinda Wijesekera over threats on the ministry secretary. `We expect them to take up this issue without further delay,` the sources said.
The UNP is also likely to raise the recruitment of 400 JVP supporters for a three-month period to assist the tsunami affected fisher families. They had been paid Rs. 15,000 for this period, the sources said, claiming that the original plan was to recruit 4,000 persons. That would have cost a staggering amount, the sources said, claiming that the Treasury initially rejected the plan but subsequently agreed to recruit 400 workers.